In 1832, a pastor was appointed to the Methodist circuit from Wilkinsburg through East Liberty, Swissvale, Turtle Creek, and other points in what are now the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. South Avenue United Methodist Church traces its beginnings to this initial circuit rider.
In 1843, the Wilkinsburg Methodist Episcopal Church was organized with twenty-four members. A one-room church was constructed on Wallace Avenue on what is now the site of the Wilkinsburg Baptist Church. A series of revival meetings brought 137 new members in 1876, and consequently the building was enlarged by adding a vestibule and bell tower the next year.
In 1892, the growing congregation sold the Wallace Avenue property to the Baptists and moved to the present site on South Avenue. A new church building was erected, but in 1907 that building was completely destroyed by fire. By September of that same year, a cornerstone was laid for the present building, which was completed in 1909.
The new building provided seating in the sanctuary for 1000 persons. The education wing was added in 1923, and major alterations were made to the entire church in 1965.
In the first 65 years of her existence, South Avenue United Methodist Church became the mother church of six other congregations.
After the 1939 national merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church South, and the Methodist Protestant Church, the new church was named simply the Methodist Church and this church became the South Avenue Methodist Church. After the 1968 national merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church that created the United Methodist Church, the name was changed to the South Avenue United Methodist Church.
South Avenue United Methodist Church is open to all people as it seeks to be in ministry with and for the Wilkinsburg Community and beyond. The building is used as a base for many community outreach ministries, including Wilkinsburg Community Ministries, Church World Service, and an educational program called PLEA that serves children with special needs. The congregation is committed to being a faith community that nurtures God’s love in Jesus Christ in all that we are and in all that we do.